I Saved a Life Before 8 AM
Like many of you reading this, I woke up to rain and thought “Great…juuust great”. I could hear it beating down the second my eyes opened and I immediately thought of how crappy my commute would be; grouchy pedestrians…the nasty smell that goes along with a train load of wet Metro travellers…the idiot drivers who act as though they’ve never seen anything fall from the sky before…
What a lovely Thrusday morning this is shaping up to be.
So, when the New Girlfriend (NGF) and I headed up the street towards the Metro, both of us with our heads tucked under our umbrellas, I wasn’t exactly wide eyed. Oh, and add to the list of annoying morning issues the sound of the hundreds of children making their way to Harriet Tubman Elementary. Oh yeah, it was a hum dinger of a start to my day. Every morning, rain or shine, I find myself thinkng the same thing;
Shut up shut up OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHUT UP!!!
Today however, as I walked up Irving Street, I saw one little boy waiting to cross the street…I don’t know why he stood out, exactly, but he caught my eye. It might have been the bright red jacket he was wearing, or the fact that he was waiting for light…staring straight ahead at the crossing guard and the crossing light like a good kid should. NGF and I were having a light hearted conversation about the weekend and doing some Christmas shopping for our families when the light changed and, off the little man went.
Then everything slowed down…
Coming down the perpendicular 13th St was a School Van/Bus. You know the ones…not a full sized bus, but bigger than an average van. This bus was turning down Irving St, towards the little guy in the red jacket crossing the street.
He’s going to slow down and wait…let a car pass through the intersection and then go…
But he didn’t…he just kept coming.
I turned and looked at the crossing guard…who was staring up Irving…not even looking at this little guy coming right towards her. He’s RIGHT THERE…he’s staring RIGHT AT YOU..turn your fucking head!…
By now, the kid in the bright red jacket was nearing the halfway point of his journey across Irving. He’s got it, I thought…just as I saw the bus start to fucking accelerate to get across 13th and down Irving ahead of the oncoming traffic. Right then, everything sped back up.
At this point I was maybe 15′ from the intersection, and I realized that no one except for me saw this little boy in the bright red jacket. No one. Not the crossing guard who never looked, not the school bus driver who was trying to beat traffic and wasn’t watching where he was actually going. Not the other pedestrians or even the cars waiting for the light. This kid was in the blindspot of the entire Universe.
Except for me.
Whoa! whoa! WHOA! I screamed as I stepped out in to the street waiving my arms like I was trying to signal a rescue helicopter…FUCKING STOP!!! STOP!!! WHOA!!!!
The bus driver hit the brakes and looked annoyingly at me and went to give me the “get out of the way” hand sweep…
The little boy in the red jacket turned and looked at me as if he didn’t know the answer to a math problem…
The crossing guard (in title only) turned to me and looked angry, as though I’d somehow violated the rules of her fiefdom and started coming towards me ready to yell…
And then, in a moment that Scorcese couldn’t have filmed any better…
They all saw each other.
The little boy in the red jacket looked over his shoulder and saw the front of a van not two feet from him. It must have looked like the scariest monster he’d ever seen…with a grill for teeth and two burning headlight eyes…he turned and ran back to the side of the street he’d started from…and started to cry.
The bus driver finally saw the little boy when he turned back and realized there was a bus behind him. OK…OK he said to me with the universal hands-held-up-mea-culpa…
OK? It’s not fucking OK!! Open your fucking eyes! You almost killed that kid you fucking idiot!
And the crossing guard, now finally in the street, but on the other side of the bus (with an obstructed view of the retreating boy she should have seen all along) started with, calm down, what’s the problem?
Don’t tell me to calm down where the fuck were you?!
Then she noticed the boy on the other side of the street and waived him over…it’s ok, I got it.
Yeah, now you’ve fucking got it. Open your eyes!
NGF and I headed on our way with our hearts pounding and our own eyes wide open. At first I thought it was the straight up incompetence that I’d seen that had me so angry. Honestly? That was only part of it. The rest of it was the fact that if I hadn’t done anything…if I’d just gone along my original train of thought, “they’ll see each other”, I would have watched that little boy in the red jacket get run over. The bus driver, having never seen him, would have hithim, gone right over him, kept right on going…
And my day would have started with the death of a little boy in a red jacket.
Now, I saw a gang banger get popped in Dorchester, Ma once. One guy leaned out the window of an 80’s Caddie and shot another guy right in the stomach. Happened maybe 20-30 yards away from me. I had to give a statement to the police and everything. I never lost a night’s sleep over it.
But this? This I am pretty certain would have messed up more than my sleep patterns. I immediately thought of my nieces. Of NGF’s little girl. Hell, I thought of just about every kid I’ve ever known.
Parents…how can you deal with it? With knowing that even when they are surrounded by the people that are supposed to be watching out for them, the bus drivers and the crossing guards of the world…that the Universe can turn a blind eye and suddenly there’s a monster bus taking away your world?
Think about this; somewhere out there right now is a parent that doesn’t even know, and most likely never will know just how close they came today to losing their kid. That little boy in the red jacket isn’t going to go home and say “He mom, today I was crossing the street, with the light like I’m supposed to, just like you taught me, and this bus almost hit me! Yeah, only, guess what? I never saw it, and this guy had to jump out in the street and stop him!”
(And then I learned all of these really great swear words!)
I don’t know how you parents do it. I really don’t. Me? If I had a kid? I think I’d lock them in their room until they were at least 16. You think I’m kidding, I know you do. Heh heh.
Between monster school vans, senseless violence, falling off the jungle gym, pedophiles, and Christ only knows what else? I just don’t think I’m built for having kids. I mean it. And short of saying “I left you something in your room” and then nailing the door shut once they go in there? I got nothin’. Really, that’s my whole parental approach right there.
And somehow I think Child Services would frown on that sort of thing.